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A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

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On 5/17/2017 at 10:49 PM, justubes said:

Would several SR7 supplies be overkill for powering vcxo.

 

Not overkill if you want the very best and are ok with the cost.  As you stated, more cables and inconvenience.

 

This is why the sCLK-EX board is such a game changer.

 

Another key to why the sCLK-EX is such a difference maker is that if you use all 4 clocks, they are synchronized.  This is really key.

 

I will eventually have 3 sCLK-EX boards (one for the server, one in a tX Ultra, and a 3rd for a router) and so potentially, a total of 12 clocks replaced.  It would be incredible to be able to synchronize all 12 clocks and that is enough reason to consider a 10MHz master clock.

 

I went to the Mutec booth yesterday and was stunned by their new REF 10 master clock.  It has 8 galvanically isolated clock outputs (50 or 75MHz) which means you can synchronize up to 8 devices (or 8 sCLK-EXs), an impressive linear PSU and a custom designed OCXO with incredible phase noise measurements in the very important 10Hz - 10kHz region, the frequency span that is most crucial for a clock to perform well according to Lee.  Having seen its measurements, Lee said this was probably the best measurements for a 10Mhz clock he has seen and that this should definitely improve upon the sCLK-EX.  Having heard it paired with Mutec's MC3+USB, it was quite impressive what I heard.  You could toggle easily between the Mutec's stock clock and the REF 10 master clock and even in the noisy venue of the MOC and through a modest headphone setup, the improvements were amazingly obvious.  This master clock is now on my "must have" list.

Edited by romaz

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22 minutes ago, romaz said:

-

I went to the Mutec booth yesterday and was stunned by their new REF 10 master clock.  It has 8 galvanically isolated clock outputs (50 or 75MHz) which means you can synchronize up to 8 devices (or 8 sCLK-EXs), an impressive linear PSU and a custom designed OCXO with incredible phase noise measurements in the very important 10Hz - 10kHz region, the frequency span that is most crucial for a clock to perform well according to Lee.  Having seen its measurements, Lee said this was probably the best measurements for a 10Mhz clock he has seen and that this should definitely improve upon the sCLK-EX.  Having heard it paired with Mutec's MC3+USB, it was quite impressive what I heard.  You could toggle easily between the Mutec's stock clock and the REF 10 master clock and even in the noisy venue of the MOC and through a modest headphone setup, the improvements were amazingly obvious.  This master clock is now on my "must have" list.

Hi Roy, great insights thanks. I am myself really interested in their new REF 10 master clock (expensive it is!). I am considering buying it and pairing it with my MUTEC MC3+ USB.

In this case and in your opinion, would a sMS200 Ultra before the Mutec and its REF 10 clock still be worth it vs the standard sMS-200?

Edited by pam1975

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On 5/20/2017 at 2:16 AM, amir57bs said:

I recommend you to try purist audio anniversary usb cable . It is far better than curious/audioquest diamond/acoustic revive .I think it may change your idea about using sotm usb card vs sotm sms-200.

i guess the best way is pcie usb card plus good psu.

 

The Purist is a very good USB cable.  No coloration, just a very neutral, natural sounding, open and transparent sound.  The Clarity Cables Natural USB is also a very good choice and was the first cable I heard to improve upon my Curious USB loom which has since been replaced.  I, too, found it superior to the AQ Diamond, WireWorld Platinum, TotalDac USB, and various others in a shootout my group held earlier this year.  Perhaps the only thing I've heard that is better is a $3,500 Kubala Sosna Realization USB.  It is based on UP-OCC grade silver and utilizes a cotton primary dielectric.  Like other good cables, it has a separate 5V line or can be ordered without a 5V line if not needed.  It is shielded incredibly well which is the key to its higher cost.  Just like the Purist, the Clarity Cables Natural USB is  "measured" to be USB 2.0 compliant and very few audiophile USB cables are.  This is the issue that Gordon Rankin has with USB cables and so this means this cable was specifically measured to have a differential impedance of 90 ohms.

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On 5/20/2017 at 2:27 AM, ElviaCaprice said:

 

Color the problem with a USB cable?  That's just as bad as the highly expensive Ethernet cables.  In my opinion, it's not a solution.

 

No offense to people who don't believe in cables but bad cables can definitely hurt a system or prevent it from being more transparent and this applies to analog cables, power chords (AC and DC) and digital cables which include USB.  I have no intention in coloring my system with cables but I do expect them to be compliant to spec and to cause no harm but that is so much easier said than done.  At this point, based on the balance that I already have, I seek only neutrality, transparency, resolution and mitigation of noise.  I have done enough blind testing with cables to know that they absolutely make a difference and if cost were not an issue, I assure you that you would want some of the cables that I have heard.  If I am delusional to believe that cables potentially make a very big difference, then those same delusional ears are also suggesting that clocks make a difference.  Digital is not just about 1s and 0s.  Digital transmission very much has analog characteristics.  If this wasn't true, then this entire thread is a farce.

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6 hours ago, greenleo said:

Larry,

 

Any comment of the SQ of Adnaco + IsoRegen vs Adnaco + txUSBUltra if you've tried both.  I think this is a hot issue that many CA members and all members watching this topic are most interested! 

Hi Greenleo,

 

No, I don't have a txUSBUltra here yet, so can't compare.  But I agree, this comparison is important and I am working to find a way to test each. Stay tuned.

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23 hours ago, semajm85 said:

Besides the inclusion of the superclock....are there any other improvements to the sms200,ultra?

 

Nothing else.  It's all about the clock.

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22 hours ago, austinpop said:

@romaz

 

Roy, could you also ask if there is jitter introduced by the ISO-Cat6 isolator, and even perhaps the dCBL-Cat7 filters?

 

Lee is incredibly sensitive about jitter.  This is not surprising since SOtM among other things, is a clock company.  He believes the best isolators are passive.  Galvanic isolation means resistance to DC (0Hz).  The iSO-CAT6 does not achieve this because there are challenges to filtering at 0Hz.  The iSO-CAT filters from about 10Hz to 20Hz, which is pretty much the audible band.  The filter block in the dCBL-CAT7 filters from about 100kHz to 1GHz and so they do different things but to my ears, the filter block in the dCBL-CAT7 has much more audible SQ improvement and so obviously, noise in the non-audible frequency range has a very audible impact.

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34 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

No offense to people who don't believe in cables but bad cables can definitely hurt a system or prevent it from being more transparent and this applies to analog cables, power chords (AC and DC) and digital cables which include USB.  I have no intention in coloring my system with cables but I do expect them to be compliant to spec and to cause no harm but that is so much easier said than done.  At this point, based on the balance that I already have, I seek only neutrality, transparency, resolution and mitigation of noise.  I have done enough blind testing with cables to know that they absolutely make a difference and if cost were not an issue, I assure you that you would want some of the cables that I have heard.  If I am delusional to believe that cables potentially make a very big difference, then those same delusional ears are also suggesting that clocks make a difference.  Digital is not just about 1s and 0s.  Digital transmission very much has analog characteristics.  If this wasn't true, then this entire thread is a farce.

No offense taken Roy, hope your not offended in what I say here.  But I think we just crossed, at least my line, in what I consider ridiculous territory.  $3500 USB cables, $5000 master clocks, all I can say is good luck with that.  Hopefully if there is some value too it, it trickles down into sensible, again in my terms, cost efficient components. 

I did order a SR7MR4 12V from Paul, which I consider a great value.  Effective, transparent cabling does not have to be ridiculous $$$$ in my opinion.

Hopefully SOTM will keep pushing forward their clock research and component development, eventually bringing cost effective solutions down the road.  If not, I'm sure others like Uptone Audio will do just that, again in my terms. 

Good luck on this path.

Edited by ElviaCaprice

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BTW, who's gonna be the first to ask Paul for designing something to power Mutec REF 10 with low impedance PSU?

 

If only Davina could also accept a 10MHz master clock, oh well.

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21 hours ago, ElviaCaprice said:

I couldn't disagree more.  All we want is the digital streaming data, zeroes and ones to enter the DAC unencumbered.  You don't shape digital data, yes, you can shape the electrical noise/jitter.  All we want is the upmost detail, separation and biggest soundstage from the DAC, if you want to color your sound, this is the time to do it in analog.

electrical noise/jitter will effect the DAC's analog stage, if you consider this noise micro dynamics then I want no part of it.

 

Yes, you can absolutely shape a digital waveform with respect to amplitude and rise time.  This is the concept behind signal integrity.

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18 hours ago, ElviaCaprice said:

Any cable can pick up RF noise or increase impedance over distance, especially USB or DC, not sure what's going on with ethernet.  That is why you want as short as possible of a cable.  You don't need expensive cables to do this.  Just properly built with proper impedance.  If you are noticing a difference with cables, more than likely you have a more serious problem somewhere else.  That's been my experience. 

 

I'm convinced no one fully understands what's going on with Ethernet which is why I think we need to keep an open mind.  Shorter cables don't always sound better.  To avoid reflections, a digital coax SPDIF cable ideally should be no shorter than 1.25m.  With respect to benefiting from the noise filtering effects of some cables, Shunyata and a few other reputable manufacturers suggest a minimum cable length of 1-1.5m.  With SOtM's dCBL-CAT7, it needs to be at least 1.5 and ideally between 2-3M according to Lee.

 

With regards to impedance, this is important for digtial cables (Ethernet should have a differential impedance of 100ohms, USB 90 ohms, coax SPDIF 75 ohms, AES 110 ohms) but having impedance that is to spec is not the only thing that can make a difference.

 

The best cable is no cable.  The problem is all cables cause harm in some form, either due to line resistance or noise.  Unfortunately, there are many things that can impact these properties including the conductance of the conductor that is used, the dielectric coefficient of the dielectric that is used, the quality of the insulation, the impact of the terminations, etc.  A good cable need not be expensive and its a shame that some good cables are but that doesn't mean the technology they offer is invalid.  There is definitely some snake oil being sold but not everything is.  My opinion is that if you haven't heard what a certain cable can do, it's best not to comment.

 

Now regarding your comment that cables that make a difference are reflective of problems elsewhere within a system, I agree.  A revealing cable can highlight the deficiencies in your system but that is not the fault of the cable. 

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9 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

Yes, you can absolutely shape a digital waveform with respect to amplitude and rise time.  This is the concept behind signal integrity.

Yes, but the digital data is contained in the packet of USB and that packet is what your referring to and how it flows/timing thus signal integrity.  Not to confuse the actual data itself within.

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57 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

Nothing else.  It's all about the clock.

Ah I c. Thanks for the reply. I certainly hope that it will be a great improvement to my digital content..it'll be connected straight to my DAC

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17 hours ago, hasticus said:

this is possible I think only if there is DC-DC converter on-board, which is not very good. please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

No, this has nothing to do with that.  Even with the very best regulators, if it has a variable voltage input (for example 6-12V), it will generally sound better if you feed it 12V and this is because at 12V, there is less current draw than at 6V.  

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17 hours ago, ElviaCaprice said:

Nope, your right.  I agree, one less regulator is always better.  But there is going to be other regulators for lower voltage needs, unavoidable. 

 

This is not universally true.  In addition to tight voltage regulation, a good regulator also offers resistance to a noisy environment.  The best PSU that Paul Hynes makes adds regulators rather than removes them.  Line resistance with his standard SR7 is about -80dB.  With his double regulated supply, this climbs to about -150dB.  The LPS-1 is a dual regulated supply as well.  What is important is the quality of the regulator.

 

With respect to the sMS-200 (Ultra or standard), it does include a wide range regulator to allow the end user the flexibility of using any PSU from 6.5-14V with the standard version and either 6-9V or 12V with the Ultra version and that was the intention for including it.  If you wish to have this first regulator removed, you can request it and SOtM can build you one (I have confirmed this with Lee). That means you would need to feed the sMS-200 a clean and tightly regulated 5V supply (+/- 10%).  Would this sound better using a high quality 5V PSU like an LPS-1, yes, that is what I believe but not all 5V PSUs will result in an improvement.

 

With the tX-USBultra, the situation is different.  Lee believes this unit sounds best with a PSU that can feed it 7-9V with 9V being ideal.  If you choose to remove the first regulator, SOtM will do it for you but you would then need to feed the tX 6V.

 

With SOtM's PCIe USB card, it sounds best if externally powered with a 9V supply.  He can remove the first regulator which would mean you could externally feed it 5V but he believes this first linear regulator stage, which is his special design, is one of the things that is responsible for the quality of this card.  You could use something stellar like an LPS-1 or SR7 but the quality of the DC cabling used (which will definitely add some noise) could very well make this USB card sound worse with this first regulator removed.  That would be his only caution.

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17 hours ago, Johnseye said:

As you point out, decreasing the voltage increases the current.  If higher current means less draw, and less noise then why are people suggesting undervolting these devices?  This is another question.  I honestly don't know and am looking for an answer.  In the long run undervolting could damage the device at the expense of saving power.

 

If power consumption is the same, then higher voltage means less current draw.  This is based on P = V x I.  If the power draw of a component is known to be 12 watts, an input voltage of 1V means that component will draw 12A which is not good with respect to audio.  An input voltage of 12V would mean that component would only draw 1A which would be more ideal.  If a wide range voltage regulator has an input voltage of 6-12V, as an example, it is generally believed that feeding it 12V (because it would draw less current) would sound better than feeding it 6V but that doesn't mean you are undervolting the device.  You would be undervolting the device if you decide to feed it 5V because that begins to go beyond the capability of the regulator.

Edited by romaz

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17 hours ago, Johnseye said:

Others just pointed out there must be a converter on board.  Can you confirm with Lee?

 

All regulators are converters (DC-to-DC converters) and its rare that a component will have no regulators at all.  What people are talking about is the first stage regulator that they want removed and as already posted, SOtM can remove this upon request.

 

17 hours ago, Johnseye said:

It sounds like they just used the tx chassis with the sMS-200 board and made soldered wire connections to the sCLK-EX board.  Is this your understanding as well?  Do you know why they haven't just used the same clocks from the sCLK-EX directly on the sMS-200 board?  I can guess, but hoping you heard something direct.

 

It would be more correct to say that the chassis that the tX uses was intended as the chassis for all their Ultra devices.  The sCLK-EX then connects to whatever component it is intended to connect with using U.FL connectors and so they are not soldered.  I don't know what you mean when you say that they "haven't just used the same clocks from the sCLK-EX directly on the sMS-200 board?"  What they are doing with the sMS-200ultra is no different than what they are doing with the tX-USBultra.

 

17 hours ago, Johnseye said:

I suspect Lee has used a jitter meter to determine this.  I feel for you Roy as you've gone through a lot of effort and expense only to talk with Lee, turning things upside down.  This is an excellent example of where we make our presumptions through personal listening exercises.  As many here have hypothesized, running the packets through fiber will filter the upstream power and noise.  However there are different quality emitters, and a difference between LED and laser.  There are also different types of detectors which will introduce distortion and noise, all effecting the S/N ratio.  With fiber you're converting the packets to light and back to electrical again, and it seems Lee has a good understanding of the price paid for that conversion in jitter.

 

Yes, Lee likes to measure things and I have been impressed by his penchant for measuring things.

 

I have no problems with changing course if I believe it is for the better.  I think we are all on the same journey to improve our systems and sometimes this means pushing the reset button but that doesn't mean what is best for me is best for all.

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12 hours ago, lmitche said:

Hi Roy,

 

I have had discussions with several engineers, including one with John Swenson at RMAF 2015, raising concerns about optical fiber and audio sound quality. Like Mr. Lee, these concerns were relayed in a matter of fact way.

 

Unfortunately I hear better SQ with the Adnaco, then without, using my i7-6700k based hqplayer upsampling machine at DSD512. The Adnaco works at the PCIE bus level and at 10gb fiber speeds, so is a very different animal then the FMCs used in our early, failed, fiber FMC experiments.

 

As you say, the Adnaco delivers the most solid audio image I've ever heard from any source.  I am now enjoying listening to the Adnaco with the ISO REGEN in various configurations. But without hearing it for myself, and without any disrespect for these esteemed audio engineers, I cannot accept the conclusion that optical fiber is bad for audio until I've hear something better for myself.  I look forward to hearing the SOTM solution and comparing it to various other options including the Adnaco?ISO REGEN/SOTM devices.

 

I should also say that the level of openness, size of the soundstage, extension . . . blah, blah, blahI am hearing on a daily basis is so incredible that it is beginning to feel very foolish to pursue better SQ.  The system is high resolution in every single way I can contemplate.

 

Enjoy Munich,

 

Larry

 

Hi Larry,

 

I agree with what you are saying.  To be fair to Lee, he has stated he hasn't heard the Adnaco and that if I like the way it sounds, then to go with it.  I agree with the qualities of the Adnaco and I am very much in favor with what it adds.  My ONLY issue is that if I will be changing numerous clocks upstream of the Adnaco, I don't want the jitter caused by the Adnaco to negatively impact the benefits of all of my upstream clocks.  With that said, because I have the free clocks to use, I have decided to go ahead with replacing all clocks on the Adnaco and will decide what sounds best.  I am also still dumbfounded by how SQ improved by using the Adnaco as a hub for a storage drive.  I have decided to load Windows Server 2016 + AO back on my noisy 2TB Samsung SSD and using a single SSD for both OS and storage and with the asstance of WinToUSB, I will try and see if I like what I get using the Adnaco as a "noise blocker" for this drive.  This could be another real breakthrough.

 

Regarding SQ, I was impressed by my SQ long ago but as my reference is the "real thing", then any sound system can never be good enough and as long as I am seeing notable improvements, I see no reason to stop.  

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2 hours ago, romaz said:

 

It was great to meet you in Munich yesterday!

 

Part of the reason for the higher cost of the sMS200ultra is that it requires 2 clock inputs from the sCLK-EX.

Hey @romaz, it was a great pleasure meeting you in a Munich! Thank you for the lovely chat!

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2 hours ago, pam1975 said:

Hi Roy, great insights thanks. I am myself really interested in their new REF 10 master clock (expensive it is!). I am considering buying it and pairing it with my MUTEC MC3+ USB.

In this case and in your opinion, would a sMS200 Ultra before the Mutec and its REF 10 clock still be worth it vs the standard sMS-200?

 

Yes, absolutely.  If you get the sMS-200ultra, make sure you get the master clock option so that they install a BNC connector to the back of the chassis.  This way, you can use the REF 10 to clock the sMS-200ultra.  The beauty is that your Ultra and your MC3+ USB will now have synchronized clocks and I think the combo could be incredible.

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1 hour ago, ElviaCaprice said:

No offense taken Roy, hope your not offended in what I say here.  But I think we just crossed, at least my line, in what I consider ridiculous territory.  $3500 USB cables, $5000 master clocks, all I can say is good luck with that.  Hopefully if there is some value too it, it trickles down into sensible, again in my terms, cost efficient components. 

I did order a SR7MR4 12V from Paul, which I consider a great value.  Effective, transparent cabling does not have to be ridiculous $$$$ in my opinion.

Hopefully SOTM will keep pushing forward their clock research and component development, eventually bringing cost effective solutions down the road.  If not, I'm sure others like Uptone Audio will do just that, again in my terms. 

Good luck on this path.

 

No offense on my end, Mark.  It's all good friendly debate and I respect all opinions.  I agree, the cost of some things are ridiculous.  I would never spend $3,500 for a USB cable that adds maybe 5% improvement either.  The dCS Master clock costs nearly $14k.  I am anticipating that the Mutec REF 10 will cost U.S. buyers about $2.7k.  Not cheap but compared to some others and given what it offers, there may be value there.  SotM has suggested their new master clock can hopefully match it and cost less.  We'll see.

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52 minutes ago, romaz said:

With SOtM's PCIe USB card, it sounds best if externally powered with a 9V supply.  He can remove the first regulator which would mean you could externally feed it 5V but he believes this first linear regulator stage, which is his special design, is one of the things that is responsible for the quality of this card.  You could use something stellar like an LPS-1 or SR7 but the quality of the DC cabling used (which will definitely add some noise) could very well make this USB card sound worse with this first regulator removed.  That would be his only caution.

Thank you Roy

do you recommend removing regulator on external input of Sotm USBexp card?

JCAT Usb card external input voltage is 5v  , it seems JCAT use linear regulator and sotm use one switching regulator.

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1 minute ago, amir57bs said:

Thank you Roy

do you recommend removing regulator on external input of Sotm USBexp card?

JCAT Usb card external input voltage is 5v  , it seems JCAT use linear regulator and sotm use one switching regulator.

 

Adnaco makes the JCAT USB card and I have looked at it.  I believe not all regulators on this card are linear.  The SOtM card uses one switching regulator out of necessity while the rest are linear but Lee did his best to filter out its negative impact.  If you are using a high quality PSU like the LPS-1 or if all you have is the LPS-1, then I would probably ask Lee to remove the first stage regulator so that you can power it directly with 5V instead of 9V but then take care to use a well insulated (and as short as possible) DC cable.

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